James Van Der Beek is finally cashing in on âDawsonâs Creekâ -- a show the actor says paid âalmost nothingâ during its five season run.
âThere was no residual money,â he told TODAY.com. âI was 20. It was a bad contract. I saw almost nothing from that.â
Now the newly remarried father of two is playing a fictionalized version of his post-teen heartthrob self on the new ABC comedy âDon't Trust the Bâ in Apartment 23.â
âI auditioned against six other James Van Der Beeks for this role,â he joked when the show was first presented for TV critics last winter. âBy default, it was me.â
On the series -- premiering Wednesday -- Van Der Beek pokes fun at his WB days by seducing women with Dawson Leeryâs trademark flannel shirts and Paula Coleâs tune âI Donât Wanna Waitâ (the âDawsonâs Creekâ theme song).
Van Der Beek, 36, said he signed on to play the former lover and BFF of New York scam artist Chloe (Krysten Ritter) -- who terrorizes, but then befriends her new roommate June (Dreama Walker) -- âwhen the (âDawsonâs Creekâ) money ran out.â
But donât feel too sorry for him: According to documents obtained by TMZ during his divorce from actress Heather McComb, the actor was still pulling in a hefty $49,343 a month (with $4,100 going to charity) as of 2010!
While Van Der Beek has continued to appear in movies, he admits it wasnât always easy to poke fun at himself -- or the character that made him once so famous.
âYou are incredibly fortunate whatever success falls on you, which is what happened with me,â he said. âBut as soon as that happens, I think there is a tendency to feel like you have something to lose. Or something to protect. That can often lead to taking yourself a little too seriously.
âIt is very easy if you have all the money in the world to just sit back and coast. But if you realized that you are going to have to start providing for yourself and for your family, it really forces you to buckle down.â
In recent years, he said, âI started saying yes to things that I had been saying no to previously. I really passed on a lot of things out of fear or âWhat are people going to think?â or âIs this what I really want to do?â You can find a million reasons to say no to something. Then I got to a point where I thought, âWhat am I doing?â And I started saying yes to anything that sounded fun.â
Along the way, Van Der Beek admitted he was too quick to say no to many projects.
âThere were meetings for things that would have kept me a little more relevant,â he recalled. âBut I thought, âI donât really want to do another horror movie, do I?â And, of course, doing âAmityville Horrorâ would have been a really good career move at the time!â
"Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" premires on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.